8 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Shopping Tips

Black and gold jewelry bundle finishes two great outfits


You’re always on my mind when Artful Home unveils a new jewelry collection and asks me to choose a couple of pieces to review and write about. As I look through the collection, I think about companion pieces that will tell a story and provide a shortcut to getting dressed.

I usually go into the choosing part with an educated guess about what I’ll share with you. Sometimes—like this time—my initial teaching points don’t hold water. That leaves me with some ‘splainin’ to do.

Preparing my jewelry styling lesson plan

Here’s the conversation I started with you in my head after I selected the Midnight on the Water Earrings by Lori Gottlieb and the Two Tone Small Rough Cut Bracelet by Lisa Crowder.


Artful Home black and gold collection

From the black and gold jewelry collection at Artful Home


These black and gold Midnight on the Water Earrings would be great for a special occasion. There’s drama in the concave column. They’re two inches long, so we’re not talking petite here. This is not a nothing earring; it’s a something earring. It’ll be noticed. It’s the star.

The supporting piece, the Two Tone Small Rough Cut Bracelet, will be a lovely companion to the concave column earrings. The bracelet repeats the black and gold colors in the earrings. It’s happy to be the supporting accessory to the Midnight on the Water Earrings.


Lesson plan is complete, now for the photo plan


I made a cup of coffee and thought about how I’d demonstrate my jewelry teaching points in outfit photos. I said, Brenda, you probably need to pair these two pieces with a sleek gray or black dress in a column shape. Or, you could wear this black and gold jewelry set with a column of color in separates. They’d be fabulous with your black wide-legged pant (too bad they’re small on you right now) and a classic black fine-knit sweater (that need to buy).


The earring and bracelet arrive with their own lesson plan


Black and gold jewelry relates to each other

Wearing the concave earrings and two tone link bracelet


You know me: When I get something new, I try to wear it in the first 24 hours.

I wasn’t flush with extra time to go shopping for the column dress or separates I thought I needed. I’d have to shop my closet to make an outfit within my time limit. Tick tock, tick tock.

Not sure what to do next, I decided to let the brilliant gold color in the earrings talk to me and tell me what it wanted to be paired with. I looked into my closet and waited for the answer. Burgundy said, “Me. It wants to be with me.”


Column of burgundy

Column of burgundy


Okay then! I created a column of burgundy with my thin-wale corduroy pants (Kut from the Cloth) and a seasoned silk ruffled and tucked blouse.


My fashion fairy godmother intervened

Okay gold and burgundy, what do I add next? “Hunter green,” they said in unison. In the 3/4 coat section of my closet, I spotted my reworked Peter Cohen lean wool coat. It was a resale item. After I purchased it, I had it shortened but still struggled to wear it. Two years went by before I sent it back to the consignment store for resale.

It never sold. When it was returned to me, I ran it by the Bellas. They both thought I shouldn’t invest any more time or money into it. I don’t know why, but I kept it anyway.

I slipped it on. Burgundy and gold were so right on. I should have seen it myself: Red and green (or hunter green and burgundy) are complimentary colors. Complimentary colors create vibrancy.

I especially like how the jacket lapels are perfectly positioned to give the right amount of space for the flounce of the ruffles. Thank you Fashion Fairy Godmother!


Complimentary colors are vibrant

Complimentary colors are vibrant together


Vibrant earrings for complimentary colors

The earrings are vibrant too


If you look closely, you’ll see I added two more things to my black and gold earrings and bracelet combo: my bee watch and my Victor Sanz gold and diamond owl ring.

Don’t the four of them make up a handsome grouping?


Black and gold jewelry grouping

Combining new pieces with old friends in this jewelry grouping


I wanted to bring in a casual element for this work outfit, so I added in a rich brown shade with my sleek, suede ankle boots and my handbag of a similar tone.


Creating a work outfit

The colors and accessories look finished and friendly


Can you see how the finished outfit didn’t line up with my original lesson plan whatsoever? There’s no black or charcoal gray to be found. I didn’t have to go shopping or wait for a special occasion to wear these pieces. They fit right in with items I already had, in an outfit perfectly suited for my lifestyle, and meeting my twenty-four hour standard.


Outfit #2 came easier

With the pressure of that first outfit out of the way, I wondered what else I could create from my closet. Since I’d given up on my first ideas, my mind was free to experiment.


Black and gold accessory bundle

A new color combo for the gold and black Artful Home jewelry


I went back to my closet and asked the same question as before: what color would gold like to pair up with? This time the answer was Tiffany Blue. I slipped on my J.Crew Tippi sweater in that color and put on my olive green corduroy jeans. I added an olive green sweater tunic and belted it with a cognac leather belt.


Corduroy work outfit

My long Griffin Coat talks to my Midnight on the Water Earrings


I wanted one more layer. I knew exactly what to reach for: the Griffin Coat from Artful Home (last year). See the white and olive green chalk lines in the black coat? What a color combo. Let’s all swoon together, shall we?

I transferred that black and gold jewelry combo to this outfit and added the same cognac boot and handbag. I needed one more thing. With the deep V made by the belted tunic, there was a space there. Since gold is running the show, I looked at my accessories, and there was Mother’s gold locket. Sweet.


A styling ah-ha moment

I just noticed something: In both outfits I’m wearing long coats. Do you think I unconsciously chose them because they relate to the long line of the Moonlight on the Water earring? What do you think?


Styling a work outfit

These earrings like lots of colors


It’s kind of mysterious (and wonderful) to me how I am so comfortable wearing these earrings in my right-now life, when I saw them as special occasion earrings. But what was I thinking? Isn’t every single day a special one?

I know I’ve focused on the star accessory, but the Two Tone Small Rough Cut Bracelet balances everything. It truly is an award-winning supporting accessory. Give it the credit it deserves: an outfit needs both of these positions filled in order to work well.


Class—what have we learned about fashion and style?

Here are a few of my takeaways.

  1. You don’t know what’s going to happen until you try it.
  2. It’s best to let pieces talk to you and tell you what they want.
  3. Working with a jewelry bundle makes dressing so much easier.
  4. One well-thought-out outfit will lead quickly to the next one and the next one.
  5. Styling outfits is one-part playing, one-part listening, and one-part letting go of results.

And your takeaways, my friend? Please share!


Artful Home sponsored this post. Thank you Lisa Bayne and Artful Home for allowing me to play with and learn from these pieces.


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  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    December 11, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Again, as always, your story telling is a joy to read, Brenda!
    And it is funny how you picked two longer coats with this jewelry. Of course it is colder now (at least where I live), so it makes sense for that reason too.
    I have some pieces that don’t get well loved in my closet….until I finally get them out and experiment with them. Then I end up wearing them a ton. Sometimes I think it’s because they are different than what I normally wear so at first I have a hard time figuring them out. Maybe that’s the same with this coat/?

    • Reply
      December 11, 2018 at 6:45 am

      Jodie, I absolutely agree that experimenting with pieces is essential. It’s funny with that hunter green coat. I love the quality of the fabric and adore the color. But I tried and tried and tried. Truly I did. It wasn’t until that particular earring came around, plus working with its compliment on the color wheel, that it really worked. I think that outfit is so perfect to wear right now. It’s red and green but an elegant version of red and green. Thanks for your thoughts. As you can tell, this earring really put me to the test in a good way! XO

  • Reply
    December 11, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Love both looks Brenda, but a question and some possible “splaning”
    ….in the past, you have mentioned the difficulty of wearing long earrings and collars. I see the simplicity of theses column earrings being ok with the collars, but I find they often rest or move awkwardly when I try. Wondering if your eye has changed to accept the look more now? Or is the style of earring the important point.?
    Thanks….I so enjoy your fashion opinion and advice.

    • Reply
      December 11, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Soose, you bring up a great point! I think I saw the Midnight on the Water Earring as a standalone dramatic focal point, hence my vision of sleek pieces so the earring would get the full attention. Also, with no collars it wouldn’t have a chance of getting snagged up. You’ve helped me come so close to one of the big ah-has of working with the earring and bracelet, which is that this earring isn’t an all or nothing earring. It was happy to hang out with other pieces, including layered pieces. The fact that it just drops–whoosh–and holds it’s own is a big part of it. If this earring had moving parts to it, it could get snagged up on collars, but it just falls so nicely. The other HUGE thing was just trying it, playing with it, seeing what it would do. I had to set my assumptions aside and allow magic to happen. Does that help? I’d say keep trying, Soose. Experiment and play and see what happens.

  • Reply
    December 11, 2018 at 8:06 am


    • Reply
      December 11, 2018 at 8:32 am

      Thank you my love! Your tree is so inspiring!! Maybe a visit over the holiday break?

  • Reply
    Barbara Kraus
    December 11, 2018 at 10:15 am

    I love the magic that can happen when the right piece comes along that explains why you own something. And that magic always needs a trying in session.

    A similar story to yours. I had a dress that never lay quite right in my hips so I consigned it. A while later I tried and tried to find something lightweight to wear to an outdoor wedding in significant heat. Just before the wedding I picked up my unsold dress, spotted my mud thigh? knee? length extremely openwork sweater that perfectly distracted from the “problem” area. Magic.

    Another time I bought a striped bangle bracelet that I was instantly attracted to. Didn’t wear it until a few years later when I bought a striped top in the same colors. Wasn’t until I got home that I realized they went together. And usually I’d avoid something so matchy-matchy but I go all in. With striped shoes, socks, and a previously orphaned barrette. Not as over the top as it sounds as the socks don’t show, barrette is on the back of my head, etc.

  • Reply
    Linda B
    December 12, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Dear Brenda,
    I am a new subscriber and this post was so delightful! I love the idea of listening to the clothing “speak”. I think I do that too, many mornings, as I create my outfits. That is the art of dressing oneself, just as one chooses elements of color and texture in making any visual artwork. I look forward to your future posts!

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